Head coach Bob Huggins made a change to his starting lineup for the first time this year, plugging senior Jaysean Paige in at the two-guard spot for sophomore Daxter Miles Jr, who had been in the starting five for 49 consecutive games.
Paige didn’t have his typical hot shooting performance today, going 2-for-10 from the field and finishing with nine points, but big-time scoring outputs from Jevon Carter, Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton helped the Mountaineers move to 14-1 and set up a showdown with Kansas Tuesday night.
“Jaysean is a great player. Sometimes people take shots, and they just miss. Sometimes your shots don’t go in. Honestly, he didn’t get down on himself. He stayed in it and got to the line in the second half a couple of times, and we need that out of him. We need him to step up when guys are down,” said junior guard Teyvon Myers.
Myers stepped in and played some increased minutes with Miles Jr. sitting on the bench the whole game due to an ankle injury, providing four points and two rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
“I knew that Huggs would probably throw me in the fire, so I just stayed ready. I’ve got a little thumb injury…I just got it in ice early,” Myers said.
Myers, who is normally the most excitable player on the WVU bench, brought plenty of that energy to the floor in the Mountaineers’ runaway win. The junior hype man from Brooklyn, New York said his energy isn’t artificially manufactured. He genuinely loves to relish in his teammates’ accomplishments.
“Every time one of my teammates do something I always feel like it’s me, and I always feel like if I cheer a lot it just brings energy to the game whether I’m on the court or off the court,” he said.
There was plenty of energy in the building for this one, as it was West Virginia’s first home game in nearly three weeks. After going 3-0 on their most recent road trip, the Mountaineers were happy to enjoy some home cooking for the first time in a while, and they played like it.
The Mountaineer offense was much more efficient today than it had been on its turnover-filled three-game road trip. West Virginia turned the ball over just 10 times today, and scored 15 points off 16 Oklahoma State giveaways.
Myers said West Virginia’s offense didn’t have too much of a different feel with Miles out with an injury and Paige inserted into the starting lineup, but they did miss Miles’ tenaciousness at times.
“It’s all the same. One thing that Dax gives us that everybody can’t really give us is that scrappiness. He’s from Baltimore, so you know, they foul and the ref doesn’t call it…Dax gets away with the steal and the dunk. That’s just how Dax is,” he said.
“There’s some stuff that Jaysean can do that Dax can’t do which is also a plus; like rebounding. He rebounds the ball pretty well.”
West Virginia will now look ahead to a matchup with the Big 12 bully for the past 11 years, the Kansas Jayhawks. Barring an upset in Lubbock tonight, Bill Self and the Jayhawks will come into the Coliseum ranked No. 1.